Operations within Blacberry Hill Farm

Learrning Outcomes to be Assessed:
1. Analyse the use of scheduling tools and techniques within the operational environment.
2. Critically appraise and apply appropriate tools to assess the current business environment.
3. Evaluate alternative improvement options using mathematical modelling and simulation tools.
4. Develop a forecast plan with a supporting business case to the executive board of an organisation.Rationale:
Operations Management is a professional role which involves overseeing the production of goods and/or provision of services. Operations Managers are called upon to make sure an organisation is running as best as it can. In this assessment you will have the opportunity to develop your sills in forecasting for competitive advantage.

Description:
Blackberry Hill Farm (BHF) has developed two businesses to complement their traditional farming activity over the last six years. The first is a service operation opening up the farm to paying visitors who can observe farming activities and enjoy tours, walks and exhibits; the second is a facility manufacturing preserves.

The case allows students to explore capacity constraints in a service business and to compare the capacity with demand forecasts. Students will be able to highlight the dangers of ignoring changes in “mix” of demand and the inappropriate use of averaged data. Students can explore options for flexing capacity, managing demand, and target marketing to achieve a better balance between capacity and load in a highly seasonal business. Students will also examine the role of inventory, personnel issues and seasonality in the manufacture and supply of preserves in which there are constraints in production.

Additional information:
The Case should allow students to focus on trade-offs between conflicting organizational priorities, focusing on them to examine comprises and make appropriate decisions that may (or may not) please differing stakeholder groups

Case Study in Detail:
‘Six years ago I had never heard of agri-tourism. As far as I was concerned, I had inherited the farm and I would be a farmer all my life.’ (Jim Walker, Blackberry Hill Farm) The ‘agri-tourism’ that Jim was referring to is ‘a commercial enterprise at a working farm, or other agricultural centre, conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates
supplemental income for the owner’. ‘Farming has become a tough business,’ says Jim. ‘Low world prices, a reduction in subsidies, and increasingly uncertain weather patterns have made it a far more risky business than when I first inherited the farm. Yet, because of our move into the tourist trade we are flourishing. Also . . . I’ve never had so much fun in my life.’ But, Jim warns, agri-tourism isn’t for everyone. ‘You have to think carefully. Do you
really want to do it? What kind of life style do you want? How open-minded are you to new ideas? How business-minded are you? Are you willing to put a lot of effort into marketing your business? Above all, do you like working with people? If you would rather be around cows than people, it isn’t the business for you.’

History
Blackberry Hill Farm was a 200-hectare mixed farm in the south of England when Jim and Mandy Walker inherited it 15 years ago. It was primarily a cereal-growing operation with a small dairy herd, some fruit and vegetable growing and mixed woodland that was protected by local preservation laws. Six years ago it had become evident to Jim and Mandy that they may have to rethink how the farm was being managed. ‘We first started a pick-your-own
(PYO) operation because our farm is close to several large centres of population. Also the quantities of fruit and vegetables that we were producing were not large enough to interest the commercial buyers. Entering the PYO market was a reasonable success and in spite of making some early mistakes, it turned our fruit and vegetable growing operation from making a small loss to making a small profit. Most importantly, it gave us some experience of how to deal with customers face-to-face and of how to cope with unpredictable demand. The biggest variable
in PYO sales is weather. Most business occurs at the weekends between late spring and early autumn. If rain keeps customers away during part of those weekends, nearly all sales have to occur in just a few days.’

Within a year of opening up the PYO operation Jim and Mandy had decided to reduce the area devoted to cereals and increase their fruit and vegetable growing capability. At the same time they organized a Petting Zoo that allowed children to mix with, feed and touch various animals…………………………………………….Tasks:
1. Detail the current business issues being faced by Blackberry Hill Farm
2. Discuss why Blackberry Hill Farm should develop a stable forecasting model.
3. Discuss and justify your preferred forecast model,
4. Discussion around the accuracy of the forecast model and how the model is measured against historical data

Part 1 (LO 4) – Individual presentation, the following areas should be covered and explained in detail. (25%)
Develop a forecast plan with a supporting business case to the executive board of an organisation
– Based on historical data develop a forecast for Blackberry Hill Farm for the following twelve months.
– Appraise a number of different forecast techniques and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each technique, from this analysis justify the technique you are proposing.
– Discuss how forecasts can be measured in terms of the accuracy of the forecast, must include a minimum of two different techniques.

Part 2 (LO 1-3) – Individual Report (75%)
Analyse the use of scheduling tools and techniques within the operational environment.
– Identify the current capacity constraints within the Blackberry Hill Farm.
– Discuss how seasonality could be addressed in terms of: (the season, weekday/ weekend, time of day), factors such as the weather (rain/shine)
– Identify issues around staffing.
– Discuss whether any standard operational tools and techniques are being deployed within the business
– Identify how a standardised approach would assist Blackberry Hill Farm in planning the future of the business, in terms of: – Long terms strategic issues, medium-term planning and control, short-terms operations issues.

Critically appraise and apply appropriate tools to assess the current business environment.
– Identify different types of techniques in terms of controlling the manufacturing environment.
– Discuss whether deploying lean strategies would be applicable to the business
– Discuss how the deployment of lean and identify some key milstones, such as the identification of waste, TQM etc

Evaluate alternative improvement options using mathematical modelling and simulation tools.
– Simulation is generally misunderstood by businesses, identify the advantages and disadvantages of adopting such mathematical techniques, discuss this within the context of the case study.
– Discuss the differences between mathematical modelling and graphical modelling such as discrete event simulation.
– Discuss whether investment should be made in terms of purchasing a simulation
package or whether a third party should be employed on consultancy basis.